Ava DuVernay on Facing Trauma Through Film


Within the film, I felt Isabel represents the Black creative that feels they have a duty to speak on every issue or injustice that occurs within our community. You’re a seasoned director and a lot of your projects speak directly to and for the Black community, do you feel the weight of responsibility as a Black creative?

No, I don’t feel a burden, I don’t feel a weight, I do what I want to do. I decide on my projects. I’m not a director for hire, so I don’t go around saying give me work, I write things that I want to express as an artist that I want to share and the things that interest me. I’m interested in history, I’m interested in community, I’m interested in solidarity.  I’m interested in my brothers and sisters around the world and our interconnectedness to the spaces around us. So whether that comes out as A Wrinkle In Time with a Black girl travelling the universe searching for her father, or whether it comes out as When They See Us, the story of injustice of five boys who go up against the whole system to write their name or whether it’s something like Origin, which contemplates humanity overall. Indian people, Nazis, Black folk in the American South and the ways in which they are all braided together. I think storytelling comes in all forms and I’m fortunate that I get to tell the stories I want to tell.

Like you said storytelling comes in all forms, and so does inspiration. Where do you find most of your inspiration and is there anything you tend to go back to?

I’m inspired by everything. One of my family members used to say, “If you’re bored, you’re boring”. The world is just alive, it’s full of colours, full of experiences and everyone has a story. Everyone that you come across has some story, something that has changed who they are and that could illuminate something for you. Whether it’s looking at art, whether it’s reading, which is also art, whether it’s just sitting around talking to someone, whether it’s taking a walk in nature. I feel that in all those moments, stories come to my mind and I feel excited about what I get to do and I feel fortunate that I get to do it. You know, I started making films really late in life, when most people had already decided what they were going to do. I changed careers pretty late so I think that makes me even more grateful so I don’t take it for granted.

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